Opinion: Haters who hate

Stephen Corby

Strangely, it is possible to hate cars, even though logically we know they are inanimate objects. And I’m not talking about the kind of white-hot fury you experience when that shitbox you should never have bought breaks down, again, leaving you desperate to restyle it with a crowbar.

No, I’m talking about the deliciously irrational dislike we can form against certain cars for reasons we can’t fully explain. The sight of a BMW X6, for example, provokes an emotional reaction in me that goes beyond the aesthetic pain its furious ugliness assaults me with. I get the urge to hold its owner by the throat until he or she can explain what the hell they were thinking.

It’s the same with the Toyota Prius, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, everything Ssangyong has
ever made, and too many others to mention.

So I can understand, and empathise, when I see this reaction in others, except when it comes to supercars. It simply shouldn’t be possible to hate a Ferrari, a Lamborghini or a McLaren, just as it’s not possible to dislike Mila Kunis, Emma Stone, Cameron Diaz, or even Johnny Depp.

This is why I was left so bereft on discovering that some unkindly Kiwi had let the air out of all four tyres on ‘my’ McLaren 650S while I was sleeping in an Auckland hotel. They even put the expensive-looking tyre caps back on afterwards, clearly hoping this would prevent me from noticing the missing air, and that I would subsequently crash and destroy this beautiful car.

We’re not talking about an isolated incident, either, because someone previously egged a Lamborghini Aventador parked outside my house, a crime that now seems tame compared to the tyre treachery.

It’s hard to imagine the motivation of an idiot, but clearly something about this McLaren, with its racy looks, lurid headlights and look-at-me doors, made them angry. Yes, you could argue that it was the person in the car they really wanted to damage, a simple case of hatred based on envy, but surely even a simpleton would think this through and realise that the result would be one less beautiful car on the planet.

Fortunately, the car’s tyre-pressure monitors saved us from disaster (the tyres are so low-profile we couldn’t even tell by looking at them that they were down to 10psi each), but it has made me question the inherent goodness, or otherwise,
of human beings.

Simplistically, I guess it’s about money, and the lording of it over others. Certain people from a particular socio-economic group might find supercars offensive, I suppose, because they represent the kind of flashy wealth that can make all of us seethe a little at times. And yet people rarely deface the mansions on Sydney Harbour, or slash the sails on billionaires’ yachts.

Like most people, I’ll never be able to afford a supercar, but seeing one doesn’t make me angry, nor overly jealous, even though I know how much fun the person in the driver’s seat is having. Like all great works of art, they just make me smile.

Pride over prejudice

THE irony of my brush with supercar thuggery is that the McLaren is one car of which New Zealanders should be extremely proud. It is, after all, built by a company established by their own national hero, Bruce McLaren, a native Aucklander who was very much the Jack Brabham of the Shaky Isles. The national pride that remains attached to the brand is such that the McLaren dealer in Auckland is the only one in the world to outsell Ferrari in its marketplace.

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